MFAH’s New Immersive Installation Makes All of Your Worries Vanish

Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist’s installations “Pixel Forest” and “Worry Will Vanish” take over Cullinan Hall this March.

By Daniel Renfrow February 21, 2023

Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish will be on display at the MFAH through Labor Day.

Image: The Storyhive

Turn on the news (by which, of course, we mean check Twitter), and you can see in real time how immersive reality has become of late. Fortunately, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is always ready to gift us immersive experiences so refreshingly woo-woo that they have the ability to calm our nerves faster than any unplanned sound bath or impromptu yoga-watching session at Menil Park ever could.

This March, MFAH is continuing its quest to put all of our therapists out of work through its presentation of Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish, two uber-serene immersive experiences that will be presented in tandem with each other in the museum’s Cullinan Hall from March 12 to September 4, 2023.

Rist describes the installation as “a digital image that has exploded in space.”

Image: The Storyhive

Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, one of the contemporary art world’s chief innovators since the mid-1980s, has made a career out of pushing the boundaries between video and built environments, often to sublime results, and these dual experiences demonstrate her expertise in that area. According to the MFAH, the exhibit “demonstrates Rist’s profound engagement in what it means to be human in the cosmic cycle of generation and regeneration.” 

Pixel Forest (2016), created in collaboration with Kaori Kuwabara, consists of 3,000 LED lights that have been encased in resin spheres and suspended on cables from the ceiling of Cullinan Hall. Each light is controlled by a video signal so the “forest” is in a constant state of flux as the lights alternate between staccato rhythms and sinuous waves of color. Visitors are invited to stroll through the environment, which Rist describes as “a digital image that has exploded in space.”

Meanwhile, Worry Will Vanish (2014) is a two-channel video that runs in ten-minute cycles and is projected on the hall’s south and west walls. Described as a “fantastic dreamscape where the body and nature become one,” the video is composed of filmed and manipulated footage that contains video of things like dew-laced leaves, vast oceans, and a starry sky—all woven together through an accompanying soundtrack created in collaboration with Swiss musician Anders Guggisberg. Visitors are invited to recline on pillows as they lose themselves in the dual sight and soundscape—which, we must note, can be made even more serene by deleting less pleasant immersive experiences (like Twitter, for example) from your phone in preparation of your visit.

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